Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has served notice it will head to the Supreme Court to challenge a high court ruling that its MP for Bawku Central Mahama Ayariga can stand trial in a criminal case.
The Minority Leader in Parliament Mr Haruna Iddrisu said they require an interpretation at the apex court over the case being pursued by the Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu.
The High Court ordered the lawmaker to make himself available to the court anytime his criminal case is heard.
According to the court, the immunity enjoyed by parliamentarians in Article 118 (2) is for only when they are to appear as witnesses and not as an accused person.
The court presided over by Justice Efia Serwaa Botwe gave the ruling based on a certificate issued by Speaker of Parliament to the court citing article 118(1&2) which states MPs cannot be compelled to appear before a court while attending to the business of parliament.
Among the key personalities accompanying Ayariga at the court include Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, Samuel Okudjeto, Dominic Aryine, Ato Forson, Sam George and APC Founder and Presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Hassan Ayariga.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker said the special prosecutor is breaching parliamentary rules for asking him to appear in court when the lawmaking Chamber is sitting on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
Mr. Amidu has written to the Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye to release the legislator, but the latter says “is not vested with the power to ‘release’ a sitting Member of Parliament to you so you can arraign that Member before court during a period when Parliament is in session and sitting”.
The former sports minister stressed he is “not enthused about abandoning my parliamentary duties” just because of an “inappropriately timed invitation”.
“Absenting myself from sittings of Parliament for a certain number of days, without the Speaker’s permission, could be grounds for my removal from Parliament. This is trite constitutional law,” he stated.
The Special Prosecutor has sued the Member of Parliament for abusing his office among other offences.
This is the first case the Office is pursuing in court since its formation more than a year ago.
Joined to the suit is one Kendrick Akwasi Marfo of ATLAS-Rent-A-Car company.
According to the writ sighted “Mahama Ayariga aged 44 years in November 2017 at Tema in the Greater Accra Region did fraudulently evade customs duties and taxes by paying GH¢6,062.86 instead of the approved duties and taxes of GH¢36,597.15 to clear three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers.”
He is also accused of allegedly abusing his office as a public officer for his private benefit by “selling three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers with registration numbers GR 2220-18, GR 2221-18 and GR 2222-18 meant to be used for your official duties as a Member of Parliament to Kendrick Akwasi Marfo of ATLAS-Rent-A-Car at a price of GH¢40,000 each.”
Source: Daily Mail GH